Auburn, Ala.--Auburn defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, who played his collegiate ball at the University of Georgia, says that his team had a good week of practice heading in the rivalry battle with the Bulldogs.
"We've had a good week of preparation, the kids have been real upbeat and I think the kids are excited about getting back into conference and playing a quality team in Georgia," Muschamp says. "They're excited about the great rivalry.
"The kids take it to another notch," he adds about this week's preparation. "You're not as worried as a coach about motivating and get their minds set and ready to play. They're coming into your office, the want to know more, they want to watch more film and they want to be more comfortable with it on game day because the stakes are high. Certainly you feel that this week."
With Eric Brock sidelined with ankle sprain Lorenzo Ferguson will get the start at safety alongside Aairon Savage. Tristan Davis is expected to play at safety after sitting out last week's game against Arkansas State with a pulled hamstring. Jerraud Powers has also practiced this week at safety.
"I feel comfortable with those kids," Muschamp notes. "It's what we've got and what we're going to play with. Jerraud has had a great week. He's a very bright, intelligent kid. He'll be fine and he'll play some."
Powers has played corner, nickel and dime so far this season in the secondary, and his versatility is similar to a former LSU defensive back now playing in the NFL, according to Muschamp.
"He reminds me of a guy who is still playing with the Patriots, I compare him to Randall Gay," Muschamp says of the redshirt freshman. "We moved Gay over there at LSU so he played safety, nickel, corner, dime and he played all of the special teams. Guys like that are guys that can cover and are physical. (Powers) is a natural. Football comes easy to him and he's a good player."
Powers, shown above blocking a punt against Florida, has played a versatile role on special teams and in the secondary.
Auburn is 5-2 against Georgia since Tuberville's first season in 1999. The Bulldogs come into this year's contest as heavy underdogs with a 6-4 record. With the BCS standings so tight between so many one loss teams, many of the voters will be looking at how impressive Auburn is if the Tigers win, but Muschamp says that his only goal is to have one more point than the opposing team when the game ends.
"I don't get caught up in stats," he notes. "My first year as a coordinator I picked up the stats every day. I wanted to see where we were ranked, I wanted to see our scoring defense and I wanted to see our rush defense. I wanted to beat my chest when we had good stats. We've won nine games. That's the only stat that matters."
The Tigers have won three games by seven points or less and also beat Florida in a tight ball game that Auburn scored on the game's final play. Many of the wins have been unimpressive, but having a 9-1 record and being able to pull out a victory is all the matters for Muschamp.
"I think the ball has bounced our way, the kids have found a way to win and I think it's a credit to coach Tubs (Tommy Tuberville) and the staff here," Muschamp says. "When we go into the fourth quarter our kids expect to find a way to win. I've been on good teams like that where it didn't matter what the score was, we were going to find a way. Our kids feel it and I felt it in Oxford. There was never one moment where I didn't think we were going to win that game. I don't think our kids ever didn't believe it. They knew we were going to win the game.
"We were going to do what we had to do, and the same thing with Florida, same thing against LSU and the same thing at South Carolina," he adds. "We're on the road, a hostile environment, not playing well on defense, our kids never waivered, never panicked, and we're going to play to the end and win the game. Winning is contagious. They get used to it and they know what it takes to win, they know what it takes in big games to make the plays they have to make. We have to continue to do so in these next two weeks."